Train danger uncovered in the coal corridor


Charlotte McCabe worries every day about what coal dust is doing to her kids. ‘We know there are these fine particles in the air all the time around the kids. We have a 4 year old and a 13 month old. All the parents are really worried about what they are exposing their kids to.’

Charlotte lives in Tighes Hill in Newcastle. Up to 100 coal trains a day thunder past her suburb and the Carrington coal terminal is about a kilometre away from her house. ‘We recently painted our house and there was an oily black grime on the walls that just wouldn’t come off. I don’t know what it was but it looked like black coal dust.’

‘The coal terminal has a phenomenal amount of coal stockpiled and it’s not covered. They hose it down to reduce the dust but on hot days that doesn’t help. The rail line has constant coal trains going past with wagons full of uncovered coal. Even the empty coal trains stir up dust because they are not washed down after they’re unloaded.’

‘The thing I worry about the most is my kids’ lungs and the lungs of the other kids. There are schools all along the train line. My daughter’s childcare centre is right next to the train line and it’s a beautiful centre but right next to all that dust.’

‘It’s so hard to challenge the government and the companies when they say everything is fine, because the information is so bamboozling and technically loaded that you don’t even know what questions to ask. We’ve all had to become experts. Surely we shouldn’t have to do that, it should be the EPA’s job.’

‘The small percent of the profit that it would take to cover the coal - why would they not do that to protect our health? The companies are pretty much regulating themselves.’

‘People say if you move in next to a train line you shouldn’t complain but if you compare the number of trains now compared to 10 years ago it’s increased so much, and it’s going to get so much worse if they go ahead with the fourth coal terminal.’

 ‘We’ve thought about leaving Newcastle but I feel like I can’t run away from this to leave the problem for other families.’